ABOUT THE SMITHS
The Smiths were a popular British rock band from the 80s. Their music represented the end of synthesizer-heavy new wave music and the launch off guitar rock that was popular among English rock through the 1990s. The group’s sound was greatly influenced by the “British Invasion.” The created pop singles with melodic and ringing music for album tracks. However, the scope of the Smiths was wider than just being a revivalist band.
The core members of the group included vocalist Morrissey as well as Johnny Marr. They were rock fans who were inspired by the DIY music-making of punk. However, they also liked pop, girl groups, and rockabilly. Morrissey/Marr also were symbols of one of the rock’s most interesting collaboration teams. Marr was the band’s rock traditionalist. He was like a version of Keith Richards during the prime of the Smiths. He carefully made guitar tracks in the recording studio.
THE SMITHS HISTORY
Meanwhile, Morrissey didn’t follow rock tradition. He sang using crooning. He used Oscar Wild’s romantic poetry and made it clear he didn’t like the majority of his peers. Morrissey and Marr produced several songs/albums in three years even though they were always battling each other. It later resulted in the band’s end. The band helped to develop British guitar rock during the next decade.
Johnny Marr was born in October 1963. Before he formed the Smiths he had played in many rock bands based in Manchester. That included Freaky Part, Sister Ray, Paris Valentinos, and White Dice. He was close to getting a record contract sometimes. In fact, one of his bands won a contest held by Stiff Records. However, his bands never signed a deal to produce an album.
Morrissey was born in May 1959 and sang for a couple weeks with the band the Nosebleeds. He also auditioned with the Dogs and Slaughter. He was a big fan of music and movies. As a teenager, he often wrote the Melody Maker. He often had his letters published. He also wrote a book about James Dean that was published by a local Manchester company during the late 1970s. He also wrote a book about the New York Dolls. Not only that but Morrissey was also the president of the New York Dolls fan club in England.
Morrissey met Marr who was searching for a lyricist via mutual friends during spring 1982. They soon started to write songs. They later recorded some demos with Simon Wolstencroft who was the drummer for the Fall. By that fall the two had decided on calling their team the Smiths.
They recruited Andy Rourke who was Marr’s schoolmate. He worked as their first bass guitarist. Mike Joyce was the first drummer of the band. The Smiths first performed live during spring 1983. By that time the group already had a small following in their hometown of Manchester that was loyal. They also were starting to become famous in London. The band didn’t make a deal with Mancunian Factory Records for an album. The band turned down the chance to launch their first album. They later released the band’s debut album “The Smiths”.
The band instead signed with Rough Trade for on single entitled “Hand in Glove.” The song became a popular underground song in the UK. It topped the independent charts and won the praise of UK weeklies. Morrissey’s performances became famous as he wore a hearing aid and gladioli in the back pocket of his pants. His interviews also became famous due to his opinions. That helped the band to become popular among the public. The band’s second single was entitled “This Charming Man” and was released during late 1983.
The Smiths had already caused controversy over the song “Reel Around the Fountain.” It had been aired during a BBC radio session. The controversy was about the lyrics written by Morrissey. The song reached #25 on the British charts during December 1983. Their next single “What Difference Does It Make” peaked at #12 in February. The Smiths were able to reach the top of the British charts quickly. In addition, their fans passion and the UK music press showed that the group had ended the new wave era that was popular in England during the early 1980s.
Then a few months later the band supported the 1960 pop vocalist named Sandie Shaw. Morrissey had praised him publically in an article. That was a version of “Hand in Glove” that had reached the Top 40 charts. The single “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” hit #10 and became the band’s highest ranking single. The B-side song received controversy. Morrissey later criticized the Band-Aid hunger relief program. However, the band stayed popular.
The band had become the most popular new rock group in Britain. However, it was only played on college/underground radio stations in the US. This happened in part because the band had never launched a full tour.
By the end of the year, several of the band’s songs had made it to the UK’s music charts. The band’s second studio album was “Meat is Murder.” It was #1 on the British charts during February 1985. There was some criticism that the album was actually weaker than the band’s first album. Around that time Morrissey’s interviews were starting to become more political. During that time he opposed Thatcher and promoted a vegetarian lifestyle. He also claimed that all of the Smiths were vegetarians. He even didn’t allow the other members to be photographed while eating meat. That was true even though they weren’t vegetarians yet. Marr was then getting into the rock lifestyle. He started to look like Keith Richards as well as Brian Jones. The Smiths might have been the most popular during early 1987. That was with the singles “Shoplifters of the World” as well as “Sheila Take a Bow.” The band also had other singles as well as B-side compilations. Today the Smiths still have a loyal following several decades after they were a game-changer in the world of British music.